Hannu Kopra


The scenery of the Kuusamo region is best seen in the Oulanka National Park, which lies in the north of the parish. Its main nerve is the Oulankajoki river,which runs into Lake Paanajärvi in the Soviet Union.

Emerging from the flat peakbogs of the southern Salla, the river sequeezes though a narrou gorge. Swiffly passing over the many rapids there, it soon flows into its calmer deep lower reaches lined with sandy beaches.

The scenery in the park is extremely varied; to the north undulating, towards Salla worn and weathered, and in the south changeable. Over 70 % is forest. Aroud 22 % is covered with peak bogs.

Oulanka National Park also contains nearly all of the best sights in the Kuusamo region, including perhaps the most impressive- the mighty Kiutaköngäs falls.

Jyrävä falls


Kiutaköngäs falls

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The Karhunkierros Bear Ring, Finlands most famous hiking trail, winds though the most beautiful parts of Kuusamo in the Oulanka National Park. It presents the hiker with the opportunity to see for once in his or her lifetime the countriside as it was centyries ago.

Just the fact that trail lasts fo 4-6 days in the wilds gives the town dweller a chance to escape from the monotony of everyday life. For the fisherman there are many rapids along the rivers where the famous oulanka brown thout are waiting to rise.

The Bear Ring is nearly 80 km long. Wellmarked, it start from the Kuntakkivaara fork in the Salla road and heads straight to the heart of the park. Passing Ristikallio, it winds along the banks of the Aventojoki river to Taivalkoski falls.

The trail continues along the eastern bank of the river to the beautiful Kiutaköngäs rapids in the centre of park.

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Nowadays there are few places left where the traveller can enjoy the tingling excitiment of shooting rapids. One such place is however, the Kitkajoki river in Kuusamo.

Altogether, there are seven rapids along the journey: Käylänkoski, Vähä-Käylä, Vääräkoski, Peurakoski, Saarikoski, Harjakoski and Kelhänkoski. The boats pick up quite a speed- causing plenty of excitement- but the boatment know what hey are doing.

All of the rapids are tricky, particularty in the travellers opinion, Peurakoski and Harjakoski; the latter of which is also the longest on the journey.

The actual boat trip ends at Juuma but there are still plenty of rapids left as the Kitkajoki is drawn into narrow rocky gorge 2.5 km long. They include Niskakoski, Myllykoski, Aallokokoski and finally the handsome Jyrävä rapids through which the water thunders into a deep wide pool.





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Copyright: Hannu Kopra